Festive Markets traditionally take place during the four week of advent and are an ever growing popular city break holiday in Europe. The markets sell food and drink associated with the winter season along with increasing varieties of Christmas gifts, they usually have a nativity scene, masses of festive lights and a huge tree. Some have ice rinks nearby, Santa’s grottos and many other attractions. The air will be scented with spices from the sweets, cakes and mulled wine and twinkling fairy lights will create a magical Christmas experience for all the family.
Christmas Markets originated in Germany and Austria, also in the Alsace region. These markets started in the late middle ages, one of the oldest being the Dresden Christmas Market, first held in 1434. There are over 250 stalls in Dresden which attract around two million visitors a year! In Vienna, their December Market dated back to 1294 and was the forerunner of the modern Christmas Markets. Advent usually starts with the opening of the Christmas Market or Weihnactsmarkt these are held in town squares and pedestrian zones with some markets having singing and dancing as well as the stalls. From Saltzburg market you can visit the nearby village of Oberndorf where the carol Silent Night was written, visit the local chapel and snd cards with special Christmas stamps.
These days there are festive markets all over Europe and many ways to travel to them. Traditional coach holidays still operate to many countries and becoming more popular is the option to visit these Christmas markets by train. Another fabulous way to travel is by river cruise. Glide down the Danube or the Rhine stopping to explore cities and markets along the way. Festive and Christmas markets take place in many destinations including Avignon, Budapest, Berlin, Barcelona, Cologne, Dresden, Prague and Munich, to name a few. The markets of Copenhagen in Denmark can be combined with Tivoli Gardens amusement park where you will find an amazing display of Christmas lights, cafes and shops. If you are particularly interested in food (chocolate mostly!) then Belgium with it’s markets in Brussels and Brugges have a strong gourmet focus. In Krakow market, Poland, the children will enjoy nativity puppet plays in colourful portable theatres.
Here are just a few ideas for Christmas Market travel:
Rhine Valley Five day Rudesheim and Rhine Valley tour including visits to Frankfurt, Germany’s oldest Christmas Market, Rudesheim Market and Koblenz Old town. Departures are throughout November and December and include 4 nights half board hotel accommodation with coach travel from the UK. There is an alternative to do this tour by train and another to take a fly and cruise package staying on board a ship on the Rhine departing from Mainz and visiting Rudesheim, Frankfurt, Cologne and Koblenz.
Prague Christmas Markets – a three night escorted tour for a fairytale festive holiday. Fly to Prague in Czech Republic where you transfer to your hotel and choose from many options to dine out. A walking tour of Prague is included, watch the astronomical clock in the Old Town Square strike the hour with a procession of wooden figures. Explore the Old Town and former Jewish quarter, visit the Christmas Markets or join a cruise for buffet lunch and sightseeing. You can cross the Charles Bridge to see the ancient Castle District, St Vitus Cathedral and the Royal Palace. There is an optional tour from here to the Dresden Christmas Market which has a wonderful traditional setting and the world’s largest ‘nut cracker’!
If you don’t want to fly, how about a Christmas Markets Cruise? Depart from Southampton end of November for 8 nights full board and you can visit Christmas Markets in Gothenburg (Sweden), Copenhagen Tivoli Gardens (Denmark), Hamburg (Germany) and Amsterdam (Netherlands).
So contact me to book your winter holiday or festive city break and explore the Christmas Market of your choice, by air, train or road!